Geographical distribution of subclinical autoimmune thyroid disease in Britain: a study using highly sensitive direct assays for autoantibodies to thyroglobulin and thyroid peroxidase

Acta Endocrinol (Copenh). 1990 Nov;123(5):493-8. doi: 10.1530/acta.0.1230493.


In order to determine whether the geographical distribution of autoimmune thyroid disease in Britain is influenced by the pattern of iodine intake, the prevalence of subclinical disease (detectable antithyroid antibodies in biochemically euthyroid individuals) has been measured in female blood donors from seven towns in England and Wales previously characterised in terms of past and present iodine intake. Thyroglobulin antibody and thyroid peroxidase antibody were measured by highly sensitive assays which are based on the direct interaction between antibody and radiolabelled antigen. Excluding cases of overt thyroid disease (biochemically hypo- or hyperthyroid with thyroid antibodies), the overall prevalences of the antibodies in sera from the 698 female blood donors were 17.8% for thyroglobulin antibody and 17.8% for thyroid peroxidase antibody. Both antibodies were found in 12.3% of the female blood donors. In contrast, the prevalences of thyroglobulin antibody and thyroid peroxidase antibody were 41 and 43%, respectively, in the 117 female relatives of 18 probands with autoimmune thyroid disease, but the highest prevalences were observed in groups of women patients with Graves' disease (N = 39) or Hashimoto's disease (N = 39) (51, and 97% for thyroglobulin antibody, respectively, and 72 and 97% for thyroid peroxidase antibody, respectively). Antibody prevalence increased with age in the female blood donors rising from 10.6% at age 18-24 to 30.3% at age 55-64 for thyroglobulin antibody and from 14.9% at age 18-24 to 24.2% at age 55-64 for thyroid peroxidase antibody. Geographical differences in the prevalences of both antibodies were not significant and did not correlate with either the previous goitre prevalence or with current differences in iodine intake.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Autoantibodies / analysis
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iodide Peroxidase / immunology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Periodicity
  • Thyroglobulin / immunology*
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / epidemiology*
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / immunology
  • Wales


  • Autoantibodies
  • Thyroglobulin
  • Iodide Peroxidase